Tuesday, October 15, 2013

J'Taime Les Voiles de St Tropez!

Sailing off St Tropez, Frances in Les VoilesJ/97, J/109 & J/111 Win The Party!
(St Tropez, France)- For its 15th edition, from 28 September to 6 October 2013, Les Voiles de Saint Tropez offered thousands of sailors, skippers and owners of sublime yachts an idea, a state of mind, a certain experience of yachting, that was colored by the unique convivial atmosphere synonymous with the gathering of seafarers far and wide.  It's the "history" and the "future" of yachting side by side in Saint-Tropez. A dizzying, intoxicating mixture of fashion, parties, gorgeous people and fabulous sailing (usually) in the beautiful azure waters off the picturesque village of St Tropez.

St Tropez harbour at sunsetThe autumn’s major festival of international yachting lived up to its expectations for the sailors doing battle in the Gulf of Saint Tropez and the waters off Pampelonne Beach in front of the infamous Cub 55 (where beach clothing is often optional). A festival on shore, a sporting celebration at sea, it's a proven recipe for success that is synonymous with "la dolce vida" or, perhaps, "la vida loca" (as in Rio's Festival or New Orleans' Mardis Gras)!

Boasting Modern and Classic boats alike, the 300+ yachts brought the Baie of Saint Tropez to life. As always,  Les Voiles brings the magical spectacle of yachts hitting the water that represented over a century of yacht design and aesthetics.  After sailing, the heart of the event was the "Les Voiles Village"-- the event’s hub where sailors from across the yachting world and locals gathered ashore to enjoy evening festivities.

Crossing tacks in the Gulf of St Tropez at Les VoilesThe sailors were greeted by an extraordinary mix of weather this year.  From fierce storms that swept down from the northwest bringing 30-45 kt gales to sublime, gorgeous days of westerlies with 10-15 kts-- perfect for a day's sail with friends after a long evening of entertainment with friends in the village of St Tropez or dancing at the Club 55 disco on the Pampelonne beach until dawn!

In the end, the event was declared "Unforgettable", according to Bruno Troublé, Louis Vuitton Cup master-mind and long-time J/80 owner and sailor in J/80 French, European and World Championships. It was a week full of contrasts, indeed, with a quiet start in calm weather, culminating with two fantastic sailing days on Wednesday and Saturday-- mostly remembered for excellent sailing conditions under a blazing sun. The 15th edition of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez proved once again the place to be and put an emphatic exclamation mark to the end of a great sailing season!! Good times ashore, with parties on board, and the great musical atmosphere of the Village were only rivaled by the excellent sailing on the spectacular Gulf of Saint-Tropez.

Blue Man Group performs at Les Voiles St TropezAnd, Saint-Tropez attracts the stars, both human and sailing machines. Many of them J sailors past and present (J/24s, J/80s, J/109s)-- SĂ©bastien Col, Jan Dekker, Peter Holmberg, Jean-Pierre Dick-- they were all there, most sailing anonymously and enjoying one of the world’s greatest sailing festivals.

J/Teams had great fun sailing in the wide variety of conditions.  IRC D class had 40 boats participating and taking 6th was the J/111 MERLIN sailed by Michel Buffet, finishing just 8 pts from second. The IRC E class had 36 boats sailing.  Taking 10th was the J/109 JEDI skippered by Patrick Gouedart, 12th was the J/109 JAVA BLUE III helmed by Eric Bardaille who, in turn just beat by one point the 13th place team- the J/97 NO LIMIT led by Pascale Barbier.  Sailing photo credits- Gilles Martin Raget/ Marseilles, France.  For more Les Voiles des St Tropez sailing information